by Martha Wilcox
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy gives us the definition of church in these words, "The structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle."
"The church is that institution, which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick." (583:12-18)
The purpose of our organization is to meet the need of humanity for a practical and thus a satisfying Christianity. Christianity can be wholly satisfying when it appeals not alone to revelation, but to reason and logic. Revelation and reason must coincide.
Just as Jesus was a more or less disturbing factor in the religious life of his time, with his disregard of superstition and false theology, so our scientific Christianity of today meets the opposition of conservative religious thought when we say, "All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation for God is All-in-all." They said of Jesus in the olden days, "He makes himself at one with God." Today the scientific Christian makes himself one with God.
The false theology, God and man, two, which has for so many generations been the basis of all religions and the foundation of all churches, is the constant malpractice or suppositional opposite of Truth, which every Christian Science church comes under.
This malpractice would involve us in considering that important which has no importance at all; it would involve us into rushing about smartly, troubled about many things as did Martha of old. Thinking that doing good is more important than being. Jesus said that Mary chose the better part, learning to be rather than to do.
Being, because it is God being, is never inactive, apathetic; if it were, it would contradict the very idea of itself. The only God there is, is Mind, and this one Mind must be used as our Mind, or we are having other Gods. We still are tempted to feel that we must work up to God and that perhaps someday, when we are good enough, we shall become at one with God. We are always trying to reconcile God to man by trying to make the human God-like, when it is only as scientific Christians that we demonstrate or be the perfect man. Understanding God, we are man. "I am all. A knowledge of aught beside Myself is impossible." (Unity of Good 18:25)
An attitude of thought which looks up to God is not reverential; it is not Christian nor is it Science; it is an emotional state which is not conducive of progress. It is really paganism. "We lose the high significance of omnipotence, when after admitting that God, or good, is omnipresent and has all power, we still believe there is another power, named evil. This belief that there is more than one Mind is as pernicious to divine theology as are ancient mythology and pagan idolatry." (Science and Health 469:25-30).
Accepting universal belief and having in thought a man who needs redemption and a world to be saved, the second part of the definition of Church has been followed as a command, and we have tried to do the impossible thing of endeavoring, through vicarious human efforts, to elevate the race to give proof of the utility of Christian Science without Christian Science.
Does the world know what will heal it? Certainly the consciousness of the world that needs healing is not the Christ consciousness which will heal it. We cannot take Christian Science to anyone at any time. Our church is not for the purpose of bringing good to humanity, but of showing humanity the good already at hand — the omnipresence, demonstrable as Mind.
A spiritual awakening must precede the desire for Truth. We are not engaged in a Christian endeavor as are other churches. They are the Christians as the world terms Christianity, but we are scientific Christians and as scientific, we are not engaged primarily in healing the sick and saving sinners, yet as scientific Christians, we do both. "Jesus came to rescue men from these very illusions to which he seemed to conform: from the illusion which calls sin real, and man a sinner, needing a Saviour; the illusion which calls sickness real, and man an invalid, needing a physician; the illusion that death is as real as Life. From such thoughts — mortal inventions, one and all — Christ Jesus came to save men, through ever-present and eternal good." (Unity of Good 59:19-3)
We are Christian Scientists not because something has come to us from without, but because of something that is going on within. This forever coming of the Christ, this everpresent Truth unfolding as our consciousness, makes us scientific Christians. Christian Science could not be brought to anyone by anyone, though that may appear to be what is happening. Nothing is going on external to the consciousness of each individual. Christian Science is the unfoldment of the Christ, and awakening of consciousness. No one is ever awakened from without; nothing is happening from without.
The crusading Spirit, the desire or wish to spread this gospel, is false theology. The whole promise of the crusader is an acceptance of a man separate from God. An individual awakened sufficiently to perceive something of the Christ will always find the human sense at hand to confirm his awakening. Demand and supply are one.
Mrs. Eddy says, "Give them a cup of cold water in Christ’s name, (in the name of oneness) and never fear the consequences". (Science and Health 570:16-18) This is exactly what a scientific Christian will do. "A cup of cold water . . . etc." is a clearer recognition of the giver’s part of the oneness of God and man! Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his material sense for his friends; or that he include his friends in his own reflection of God. This is the structure of Truth and Love which will give proof of its utility and will elevate the race.
The greatest need today is for pure metaphysics; a scientific Christianity that will do the works of Jesus. The only way in which we can establish our Church today is the way of scientific healing. Dissension in our churches comes because the majority are not maintaining the scientific attitude of Mind; all dissension comes because of the personal sense or human opinion of right and wrong.
Good and evil are relative terms when we use them in connection with the human being. The Christian Scientist is interested only in Truth; in Truth and error — there is no opinion about these. We sit in judgment of our neighbor, forgetting that Mind can demonstrate its presence only as true ideas or thoughts, and that no church in the world can give proof of its utility as long as there is no scientific Christianity.
Our thoughts must be lifted above the human thing we call church. Since nothing exists humanly except mental concepts of Truth or God — as ideas of Soul — when we think of our church as a human organization doing good, we are not thinking Truth at all; and thus what we call our human church has no vitality, no Life, no Spirit. Our Church is idea; the structure of Truth and Love. As an idea of Truth, it is eternal, unshakable, steadfast, pure. As an idea of Love it is all-embracing, all-sustaining, all-protecting, all-guiding. Is this your church?
Is your church a Christian Science church or is it a Christian church with a beautiful Christian theory, composed of members trying to spread the gospel in different ways, but still with the thought of a God somewhere taking care of His creation somewhere else?
We are carrying this organization forward only as we rise in the understanding of the oneness of God and man, and the allness of God. The human organization should not hold us in bondage any more than we allow our human bodies to hold us in bondage. Mortal mind and its body are one; mortal mind and its human church are one. We take our stand vigorously against the bondage of our bodies because of pain and limitation, yet we enjoy and bask in the good human in our church.
There is nothing good in matter as such, nor is there any thing good in human church as such. In fact, as such, as human, they are neither body or church. Just as today we conform to the best order and procedure in our everyday living — we eat, sleep, wear clothes, acting up to our highest demonstration of Mind to free us from these material things, — so in our church we conform to the best order and procedure — we have our various activities; our lectures, teachers, practitioners, literature; but we must act here up to our highest demonstration of Mind, to free us from bondage to the human concept, to human ways and means.
Our human activities, our lectures, teachers, practitioners are the human appearing of our discernment of God, divine Love, proving its presence by meeting the human need, so that as our discernment grows clearer, our lectures, our teachers, our church, everything necessary to meet successfully the needs of humanity for redemption — will have none of the limitations which go with the human concept.
In our work in Christian Science, there is constantly before us this process of redemption of consciousness and thus the apparent re-formation of our world. There is constantly the demand before us to be what we are — the image and reflection of God, what God is conscious of.
Instinctively we know that our weaknesses, our diseases, our own unhappiness, do not belong to us, and we rush hither and yon seeking the answer to the enigma. Finally, we recognize that our world is returning to us in our own image; with this realization, our reformation and redemption begins; because we see, although dimly, that the answer to all problems is entirely at the point of our own consciousness, because that is where the problems are. We begin to realize that this instinctive urge or impulse to loose our bands, to escape from our limitations, this unrest; comes from the divine fact of our present perfection; that the kingdom of heaven is not a far-off event, but a possible present experience.
In the degree that we acknowledge this fact, by entertaining the true thoughts or ideas which are God’s being, we find that old things have passed away; behold all things are become new. We call this process reformation — this process of the redemption of consciousness." This Christ consciousness is conscious always and only of divine ideas; perfect, indestructible, incorruptible, unchangeable, invincible; and when it unfolds as your consciousness, (which it is) of divine ideas, what appears is a new mind and a new body. We find we possess instinctively the honesty, the justice, the strength, the compassion, the courage which we call character.
Character is never personal: it is individual. Character is the characteristics or qualities of God, — the invincibleness, the unchangeableness, the immortality, the spontaneity appearing concretely as ourselves because of the one consciousness. Remember reformation is not change, making something over; it is divine Being better apprehended, divine ideas appearing humanly as a changed body and mind. The apparently changed human appearance is a divine, event and not a changed human appearance. "An improved belief cannot retrograde.” (Science and Health 442:19)
Reformation does not involve human will, correcting ourselves or trying to get over something; it does not involve stopping one thing which we call wrong and starting to do another thing we call right. That is the old way of reformation. In a certain way, reformation is instinctive; we wish to reform because there is some awakening in consciousness of real being.
The Science of the Christ demands reformation. It is an actual necessity because of the great gulf which appears to exist today between our present demonstration of Truth and Truth itself. Christian Science reveals the oneness of God and man, and this revelation has being or embodiment as ourselves and our world, as understand this Truth.
This gulf narrows today in the measure that we do understand and practice our revelation, maintaining the correct view, using the Mind which was also in Christ Jesus. Then our demonstration and revelation will coincide, as it did with Jesus. He will also experience the Christ made flesh as perfect manhood. "The more I understand true humanhood, the more I see it to be sinless, — as ignorant of sin as is the perfect Maker." (Unity of Good 49:8-9)
Reformation is entirely self-reformation; there is nothing external to consciousness. We cannot reform the other fellow. Is thine enemy "a creature or thing outside thine own creation?" (Miscellaneous Writings 8:9) Is thy friend "a creature or thing outside thine own creation?" Reformation cannot appear universally without first appearing individually. Reforming ourselves, we reform our brother. We have labored long under the belief that we could reform someone else. This is not true, and we can help our brother man only in the degree we help ourselves. All we can do for our friend or enemy is in thought or consciousness, because it is the only place in which he exists to us. Reformation always brings up the thought of discipline. We find discipline a necessity because of this belief in duality, this gulf between the human and the divine.
Self-discipline is the constant recognition of the nothingness of materiality and the acknowledgment of spiritual selfhood as the only self. Mrs. Eddy says, "Self-abnegation, by which we lay down all for Truth, or Christ, in our warfare against error, is a rule in Christian Science." (Science and Health 568: 30). As we attain the understanding that there is nothing to change, we find that discipline is no longer necessary.
Until this duality is less apparent — until the gulf narrows between revelation and our present demonstration -discipline is necessary to us and just as important to us as our meals, our clothes, our houses. We must use the best sense of discipline that we have demonstrated to be ours. Material self-indulgence in any form is a self-denial of our God-being, and while human will and human discipline are not Christian Science, they are a lesser evil, resulting from a degree of spiritual awakening to the unreality of the matter man.
The only sin is the illusion of Life in matter, and if we continually indulge the sin by catering to it, we will delay our demonstration of dominion. There is never dominion in matter; it is always subjection. Looking to matter for any thing takes away our dominion, our freedom, our self-respect, which discipline (an awakening of the importance of not indulging self) returns to us.
"He who gains self-knowledge, self-control, and the kingdom of heaven within himself, within his own consciousness, is saved through Christ, Truth. Mortals must drink sufficiently of the cup of their Lord and Master to unself mortality and to destroy its erroneous claims." (Miscellany 161:14-18) "Now are we the sons of God." Now are we God’s consciousness of Himself. This Truth accepted acts as self-discipline by forcing us to assume a mental attitude toward everything and everybody which Mind, God, assumes. A certain kind of trust in God is mental laziness and therefore does not discipline us; it uplifts emotionally.
Without the understanding which Christian Science gives of the Bible, reformation in the old days was based on fear. The Mosaic Law with its interpretation of sin, was damnation instead of salvation, and until the revelation of Christ, condemnation and penalty governed mankind. Christianity today has retained enough of that law to keep condemnation and penalty as a prod for reformation. This is not Christian Science. Reformation is education; we do better because we know better. Paul said, "For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did". (Heb. 7:19) Reformation is not achieved through outward conforming to the letter of the law, nor through fear, nor through making clean the outside of the platter, but an inner urge, an inevitable recognition of what is actual and true.
Our willingness to accept the law of Love, to practice "God’s presence whithersoever we go", is the first step in our reforming process, and is rigid self-discipline. This acknowledgment of God in all our ways, this seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, is the perception in some degree of the oneness of God and man and thus a denial of false selfhood. This step may appear as helpful discomfort at a certain point in our experience, because it forces us to relinquish the materiality which is claiming to walk with us whithersoever we go.
This inner action, this urge to know and do the will of God, good, is Mind acting; it is the voluntary action of Mind which appears humanly as involuntary. In other words, we desire to reform, we seek good involuntarily, because of the divine fact, that "All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all." To think of so-called human action, to think of impulse or desire as anything but the voluntary action of Spirit, or Truth, is to consent to the belief of two minds. We act intuitively, instinctively. However, the moment we give thought to the human-seeking, we deny divine impulsion and then fail to prove reflection or possession of what is eternally ours, but which cannot appear without the oneness, Volition, desire, will, choice — all are a belief of a separate existence.
Again, the one Mind is ever conscious of itself or its ideas and these ideas appear to unfold as our consciousness through education, study, original thought, but they really appear because the one Mind is our Mind .The education, the study, the original thought appear as the result of this oneness, the proof that we are reflection — Mind conscious of its idea.
"Observation, invention, study, and original thought are expansive and should promote the growth of mortal mind out of itself, out of all that is mortal." (Science and Health 195: 19-22) Hope, faith, and understanding appear to illumine and liberate the human mind, but what is really happening is the Christ-consciousness appearing as faith, hope, understanding, and what seems to be human consciousness with its fear, ignorance, limitation, is put off.
The omnipresence of Mind acts as a constant urge to seek that which we seem not to have, so human volition is really divine impulsion. Seeking, no matter what we may be seeking, is always the endeavor to be what we divinely are. Even one seeking money or other material things is seeking in response to the divine fact of everpresent abundance and satisfaction; this is that one’s highest concept of reality or Truth, and he is laboring under a limited or imperfect sense of what is true.
When one is apparently seeking companionship or health, one is merely claiming what is eternally his. Through many disappointments, there is finally some awakening to man’s present perfection and Christian Science comes to the individual. Then the method changes, awakening in some measure to the fact of the one Mind as God, one realizes that this Mind includes everything one may seem to want or need. Before you know you need it, you have it, because that Mind is your Mind; in fact, you could not want what you do not have, and you cannot have what you do not want.
If we want a thing, the minute we stop wanting it, we prove we have it because we have stopped denying its presence. Our very being includes the right idea of all we could ever want. As this Truth unfolds, there is no more wanting or seeking; we realize that wanting and seeking deny having.
There must be no human desire, no wanting, no outlining, no planning. The moment there is voluntary desire on our part, we deny omnipresence, — the voluntary action of Mind.
The path of non-pursuit is the scientific path. Remember, Truth is always active, bringing to light improved concepts. The more we can rest on the inevitableness of what is appearing in our human consciousness as what we need, rather than the human effort to get something, the sooner we shall prove "Thy kingdom come."
Our standpoint must be perfection, perfect God and perfect man — nothing needed and nothing desired. Then the desire to go forward, the seeking of good is replaced by a progression of good beyond our present desire. "Through the accession of spirituality, God, the divine Principle of Christian Science, literally governs the aims, ambitions, and acts of the Scientist. The divine ruling gives prudence and energy; it banishes forever all envy, rivalry, evil thinking, evil speaking and acting; and mortal mind, thus purged, obtains peace and power outside itself." (Miscellaneous Writings 204:27-2)